I've been going to Orbital Comics since it opened. I was working in Soho, London, at the time and they opened on Old Compton Street, famed for being London's gay throughfare and it was just down the road. Either they were above or below a tattooist, my memory blurs…
They were the fifth comic shop in a square mile of London at the time, joining Gosh Comics opposite the British Museum, Forbidden Planet on Shaftesbury Avenue, Comics Showcase on Charing Cross Road and oh what was the other one? On the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and New Oxford Street? Comicana, that was it.
Orbital then moved to the top of Charing Cross Road, as a proper basement comic shop. And since it was on the way home from the office, I still went there. It wasn't the best comic shop in London, but it was the most convenient. And the people were great.
Comics Showcase closed. Comicana closed, threating to reopen but didn't. Gosh moved to Soho. And Orbital Comics were told that their premises were to be destroyed to make way for the new Crossrail development.
And Orbital moved to their current location, next to Leicester Square tube station in the old Photographer's Gallery. And it was the very making of the store. The place was long, it has a gallery section, it was wonderfully located and it was above ground. And I started coming home from work a different way.
Because the people were there. Refugees from other comic stores over the decades, and brand new ever so keen helpful folk, they love what they do – still do – and have continued to increase their engagement with customers. It's what I hear so much, people love the comic shop, it's length, the depth of stock, the great indie spinoff store section that feels like a whole other shop in and of itself, the events, the location and reliability.
But the thing that sticks with people most is the people who work there.
And by staying competitive on prices, they more than any other store in London have kept everyone's prices down. Even customers of Forbidden Planet and Gosh owe Orbital a debt if thanks – even if the other store owners may disagree.
But on Friday it was official.
Chris Thompson, who ran the Orbiting Podcast on Bleeding Cool for many years, accepted the Spirit Of Retailers award at the Eisners Awards ceremony on Friday night, at San Diego Comic-Con.
I couldn't have been more proud!
Except this Wednesday, they'll have an Eisner.